I’m in the middle of processing death. It’s such a strange thing, yet it happens constantly. However often it happens it will never become familiar. Death. So familiar, yet so foreign. It’s odd to think of it this way, but Jon Foreman said it so well in his song, “Broken From the Start.”
Life is a gift like fresh cut roses,
Cut from the branch and brought inside.
It’s a slow contradiction, it’s beauty in a vase.
When our cords are cut, that’s when we start to die.
It’s an interesting thought, but as soon as we are born into this sin-cursed earth, the dying process begins. The longer we live, the closer we get to the day when God says our lives are finished.
I don’t think it’s something we ever become accustomed to. I’m not sure that there is one thing that occurs so often on earth, but is still so weird and hard to grasp. It feels like death has been so active lately. I don’t recall a time in my life where it felt like to many people I knew have been taken in such a short time. It affects me a lot more when there are faces and memories assigned to a death message.
Three of those deaths were very sudden: lives snuffed out so abruptly. Two of them were young. There is no way to know everything that Seth Miggiani, Casey Gingerich, and Deborah Troyer might have done with their lives.
Casey got to live more of life than Seth did. Deborah lived longer than both of them. Seth, being a young boy, was a fairly new Christian, but he seemed well on his way to a life of service for God. Casey did and probably would have done so many more great things for God. We feel like their stories are incomplete. Deborah was a godly mother to several young children. They needed her! But that’s human reasoning.
But really, why do we speculate? The pen God used to write their stories had no ink left. His plan was that their stories would end on the exact day, hour, and second that they did. He orchestrated events to bring about His perfect plans in His perfect time. As far as God is concerned their stories are complete. His job for them on earth was over. God doesn’t ask our permission on when to end our stories.
I don’t know when God will end my story, when my “pen” will run out of ink. But it is a sobering thought. I want God to use me and be able to write the best, most colorful story possible. I want beautifully painted illustrations on the pages of my life. I want people, as they turn the pages of my life after I am dead, to be amazed at the beauty of the story God was able to write because I let Him.
God decides when our stories end. But, really, it is our responsibility what happens on the pages. When I “read” Casey’s story and Seth’s story and Deborah’s story, I see a lot of beauty. Two of them are short, but powerful. The other one a little longer, but still powerful.
As scary and strange as death seems, I would rather have a short powerful story, than a thick book that meanders across the pages of life in no direction, and as the reader searches for plot, he comes to the end of the book and finds their really isn’t one. In disappointment, he closes the book of my life, puts it on the shelf and wishes he wouldn’t have wasted time reading my story. No matter how long I live, I want the plot to be filled with twists and turn that come from living a life sold out to God.
Death means two things to me basically. That person’s purpose on earth is finished and also that God is talking to me, reminding me of the things that are important in life. At the end of life, how popular I was and how much worthless, earthly trash I accumulated will have no bearing on how beautiful or how powerful my story is. Here is the chorus from the song “Burn Out Bright” by the group, Switchfoot that conveys the message of this post fairly effectively.
“If we’ve only got one try,
If we’ve only got one life,
If time was never on our side,
Then before I die,
I want to burn out bright.”
I don’t want to be sitting around doing nothing when my pen runs out of ink. I think Seth, Casey, and Deborah burned out bright. I don’t want to rot in mediocrity. By the grace of God, “Before I die, I want to burn out bright.”